CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: PKV Racing Friday report



PORTLAND, OR -- FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2005 -- Round #4 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing drivers Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta qualified eighth and 10th respectively during today's provisional qualifying for Sunday's G. I. Joe's Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway in Portland, OR.

Vasser had a fast lap 58.134 seconds (121.622 mph) in qualifying putting the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone solidly on the fourth row of the provisional grid. The day began with a tricky morning practice as intermittent showers reeked havoc on the session. Team's spent most of the practice switching between dry and rain tires, which prevented the drivers from putting enough laps together to get either a read on the car setup or generate a fast time. At the conclusion of the practice Vasser was seventh on the speeds charts with a fast time of 62.755 seconds (112.667 mph). The 10 minute afternoon warm-up, which began with light sprinkles, but a mostly dry track, was run on dry ties, which dramatically improved the times. Vasser finished the warm-up with a quick lap of 59.392 seconds (119.046 mph), which placed seventh on both the individual practice and combined reports.

"It was a difficult day because of the unpredictable weather, but I even so I am disappointed with the way the Gulfstream/PKV Racing car qualified," Vasser began. "I am not satisfied with the speed of the car or the fact that we are eighth on the grid right now," he noted. "The PKV Racing team is going to work hard over night to make the changes that are necessary and I am sure we will be quicker tomorrow if it doesn't rain. We have to keep in the mind when we make the changes tonight, but hopefully it will be dry and we will get a chance to improve our position on the final grid," Vasser concluded.

The 39-year-old native of California, who scored the first pole in the short history of PKV Racing two weeks ago in Milwaukee, is coming off a season high fifth place finish on the Milwaukee Mile. Vasser has qualified in the top-10 in two of the three races this year, starting eight in Monterrey, Mexico to go with the pole in Milwaukee. He has finished in the top-10 twice adding a ninth place showing in Monterrey to the fifth in Milwaukee. Vasser, the 1996 Series Champion, currently stands eighth in the championship race with 44 points.

Now in his 14th season of Champ Car competition, Vasser will be making his 222nd career Champ Car start this weekend in Portland, which will extend his Champ Car record for consecutive starts to 201. The resident of Las Vegas, NV will also be contesting his 14th Champ Car race on the 1.969-mile, 10-turn Portland International Raceway permanent road course. In 13 previous events, Vasser has qualified in the top-10 a total of 10 times with a best starting position of second in 1995. He has four top 10 finishes at Portland with a best showing of second also in 1995. Vasser has finished 137 of his last 177 starts and placed in the top-10 in 125 of his 221 career races including 63 top-five showings.

Da Matta, who pilots the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine, turned a quick time in qualifying of 58.344 seconds (121.185 mph). The 31-year-old Brazilian was sixth on the speed charts following the morning practice with a quick lap of 61.692 seconds (114.608 mph). In the pre-qualifying practice session things were looking very good as da Matta posted a fast time of 58.823 seconds (120.198 mph), which placed him third on both the individual and combined practice reports.

"It was quite a difficult qualifying session for the Bell Micro/PKV Racing team," da Matta said. "We had some problems with the traffic on my second stint, so I wasn't able to get the most out of the car. I am sure that the car is better than what it shows on the time sheets, but with the way the qualifying session unfolded we just couldn't get everything out of the car," he explained. "I don't think we should be fighting for the pole, but I definitely think the Bell Micro/PKV Racing team should be fighting to be in the top-five or maybe event a little better than that," da Matta concluded.

Da Matta, who qualified a season high fourth in Milwaukee, which along with Vasser's pole established a team record for combined qualifying, finished 11th on the Milwaukee Mile. Campaigning in his fifth Champ car season, da Matta has qualified in the top-10 in all three races this year and finished in the top-10 in two of the three events including a season high sixth place finish in Monterrey. He is currently 11th in the championship standings with 40 points.

The resident of Miami, Florida, who is making his 83rd career Champ Car start and fifth at PIR, is once again looking for back-to-back victories on a track where he is not the defending champion. Da Matta won from the pole at PIR in 2002 before spending the last two years competing in Formula 1. The Portland victory was his second consecutive wire-to-wire win and the second in what would become a Champ Car record tying four straight victories, which propelled him to the 2002 Championship. In four previous races he has earned three top-10 starting positions including the one pole and a second place starting spot in 2001. His has finished in the top-10 a total of three times including the 2002 victory and a fifth place showing in 2000.

PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race at Portland International Raceway. In three previous starts (two races) the team has qualified in the top-10 once when Vasser started ninth in 2004. They have finished in the top-10 twice as Vasser placed eighth and Roberto Gonzalez 10th also last year.

There will be another practice session tomorrow morning with final qualifying set for 2:00 p.m. The G. I. Joe's Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway in Portland, OR will be televised live on CBS at 3:30 p.m. (ET).


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Roberto Gonzalez , Cristiano da Matta